About the gulf of Maine
| Bathymetry image of the gulf of Maine. Credit:
Bounded by the northeastern United States to the east, the Canadian
Maritime Provinces to the north and offshore banks to the east, the
Gulf of Maine is a semi-enclosed sea. The land area of the Gulf of Maine
watershed includes nearly 70,000 square miles. Together, the land and
the sea provide rich habitats that federally threatened and endangered
species and other many wide-ranging animals--such as migratory birds,
diadromous (searun) fish and marine mammals--depend on for their survival
where fresh river water and salty ocean water mingle, provide productive
nurseries for many marine species, vital habitat for diadromous (searun)
fish, and important feeding and roosting grounds for breeding and migrating
waterbirds. Salt marshes provide food and cover for fish, as well as
breeding and migratory habitat for shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl.
Salt marshes also serve as a natural water purification system. Mudflats
abound with animal life. Huge concentrations of worms, clams, molluscs
and crustaceans survive just below the surface, providing a bounty of
food for people and waterbirds.
Sand beaches provide habitat for two rare bird species--the least
tern and the piping plover. Intertidal and nearshore subtidal habitats
support marine algae which provide home for a broad array of organisms,
including scallops, flounder, urchins, lobster, and migratory waterbirds.
Islands provide critical resting habitat for seals, breeding habitat
for seabirds and bald eagles, and vital feeding and roosting areas for
migratory shorebirds and neotropical migrants.
lakes, ponds, rivers and their forested surroundings provide wildlife-rich
arteries of life that directly link inland forests and mountains with
the bounty of the sea. Inland habitats provide homes for bald eagles
and raptors, loons, waterfowl, wading birds and other birds. Coastal
waters support many of the same species, as well as shorebirds, seabirds
and marine mammals. Rivers provide migratory routes for once-abundant
runs of diadromous fish, including Atlantic salmon, alewives, blueback
herring, American shad, American eel, striped bass, sea lamprey, rainbow
smelt, tomcod, two species of sturgeon and searun brook trout. These
searun fish play a critical role in providing forage for many other
fish, birds and furbearing mammals--inland and on the coast.
|Baby (or glass) eels.
||© Doug Watts
oxygen-laden water subject to constant movement, mixing and upwelling
creates a nutrient-laden Gulf of Maine marine environment--one of the
world's most productive continental shelf communities. Many who live
on the shores of the Gulf of Maine appreciate its biological wealth
and have nourished themselves from its bounty. However, habitat loss,
fragmentation and degradation, wetland and associated upland loss, overharvesting,
oil spills, pollution and other cumulative effects of development threaten
the integrity of the Gulf ecosystem. The Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
is dedicated to work with partners to reduce the threats by protecting
and restoring habitat--for fish, for wildlife and for all of us.